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Saturday 27th August 2016
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George Osborne: Public Sector Strike "A Damp Squib"

Friday 11th July

The Chancellor George Osborne has told LBC he thinks yesterday's strike by more than a million public sector workers was a "damp squib".


Speaking to LBC's Iain Dale, George Osborne claimed that most public sector workers realise the need for savings to be made.

"I think people in our hospitals, in our schools, in our police forces, they are doing an incredible job, a very hard job, demanding job and we all depend on them," the Chancellor commented.

"If you look at that strike yesterday, for all the talk of the Labour Party and the trade unions about how many people were going to come out and strike, actually it was a bit of a damp squib.

"I think a lot of people in the public sector understand that if the country is close to bankruptcy, as we were four year ago, the first people who suffer are the people who are paid for by the state and that is why actually I think there is a lot of sympathy in the public sector for difficult decisions to fix the economy  because they can see the alternative is very much worse."

The Chancellor also said that the deficit is still too high to start increasing public sector pay beyond one per cent.

"I would say that the economy is in a much better position than it was four years ago," he told Iain.

"The unfortunate thing, Iain, is that we were in such a hole as a country four years ago that, although we have reduced the deficit by a half, it is still too high - the deficit being how much we have to borrow every year - and although we have created 1.7 million jobs there are still too many people who are unemployed and although we are seeking to export more - and I was doing that this week in India - we're still not exporting enough as a country.

"We are not in a position today where you can say the British economy is absolutely fine and there are no issues and no problems. There's more to be done.

"While you're borrowing this much and while you've got this many people unemployed, we have to work tirelessly to get the economy even stronger," he added.

"I'm not going to set out public sector pay policy for years to come but what I would say is that we've got another couple of difficult years to try and bring public expenditure down and get it back into balance.

"We've set out our pay policy for the future that covers part of that period but we can reach a point where actually we are then, as a country, raising as much as we are spending, which every family would know is a better place to be than the country is at the moment and then of course you don't have to make quite as many difficult decisions.

"The only thing I would say is, the biggest mistake would be at that point to completely think 'you know, okay, let's let it all go to seed again, let's let us start borrowing too much', which is why having reached the point when you are, you got your public finances in order you've got to keep them in order."